Why, back in my day, we had some obscure, low-key fire basketball shoes from Nike. Everyone this week (and the next, and the next, and probably even the week after that) may be going gaga over the Air Diors, and everyone knows the shows they’re based on, the Air Jordan 1, but Nike also made a lot, and I do mean a lot, of basketball shoes back then.
Basketball shoes that perhaps never got the fame and attention of their more famous brethren, such as the Air Jordan, Dunk, Air Force 1, or even the Blazer. I mean, in all fairness, with how big the aforementioned are, it’s difficult for anything else to get any breathing room, much as those sneakers can stand on their own two feet.
As it were.
For example, the first one you see on the left of the main image is the Court Force, which I think is another underrated silhouette that’s deserving of a comeback. The yellow/khaki pair you see pictured is one that was made in collaboration with streetwear giant Stussy, and this matrimony also came in several other colourways, including black/purple and a more subtle dark brown/cream.
Common to all of them, however are croc print panels, tri-tone laces and Stussy’s signature city script around the ankle area.
Interestingly enough, the Court Force silhouette (in both high- and low-top iterations) also played host to several other interesting colourways, including one inspired by the Air Tech Challenge II in its most famous, most Agassi, Hot Lava shade.
Then there was a high-top taking after the Air Max 95’s Volt yellow and grey scheme, and a low-top that could best be described as a poor man’s White Cement Supreme Dunk. What I love about the Court Force and its collabs (including an 'Oreo' pair with Undercover) is that it's not shouty, letting the silhouette and colourways speak for themselves.
Next, the Nike Terminator, another shoe that never really got the recognition it deserved. First released in 1985, it was retroed a decade or so after that and again another decade later, though that last one in 2008 had the ‘vintage’ treatment, which meant a yellowed midsole and laces, along with a creased and scuffed toebox.
I don’t know about you, but I’m not a fan of faux patina. It just smacks of corporate cynicism, but that’s just me channelling my grouchy old man yelling at kids to get off his lawn.
Now, on the surface of things, the Terminator is merely another vintage basketball high-top with no real distinguishing features other than the fact its original colourways referenced huge American collegiate basketball teams.
The one you see pictured above is the Terminator’s iconic blue/grey Georgetown colourway, named after Georgetown University, and echoing the team’s home kit. But the most distinctive feature the Terminator has is the bold Nike branding splashed across its heel counter, and a feature not seen on very many Nikes at all.
And oh yes, the Vandal. It might surprise you to learn that, along with the Mag, Bruin and of course, that DeLorean, this pair of orange high-tops also has a starring role in Back to the Future.
Perhaps we never got a closeup of the sneaker, as opposed to the skateboard/hoverboard scenes featuring the white/red Bruins worn on the feet of one Marty McFly, or that scene with the Mags lacing themselves up and the Nike logo illuminating. However, a pair of orange Vandals did actually grace the feet of Doc Brown.
Or perhaps the pair Doc Brown was wearing was so beat, they’ve turned a shade of brown, when it was originally safety orange.
Were they not so well-worn, I’m sure they would receive a lot more attention, given their safety orange hue, something that contrasts nicely with Doc Brown’s white overalls and complementing their orange accents.
But before I go, I want to give a small shout-out, and an honourable mention to the Air Python, arguably the most underappreciated basketball sneaker out there.
It first appeared in 1987, as a mashup of the Air Jordan II and Air Force 2, with lizardskin panels, lush full-grain leather and it was made in Italy. Oh, and it was also Swoosh-less, with the only Nike branding appearing on the tongue and heel.
Of course, its premium, genre-busting high-fashion sportswear nature is commonplace today—just take a look at the Air Diors—but back then it was revolutionary, though its lack of a Swoosh would still be considered a bold move today.
Heck, it could well be a sneaker from any one of the big fashion houses, given its bold, yet minimal nature.
It was retroed several times since its original release, but it never really gained traction, for some reason. You can even buy an Air Python colourway reminiscent of Red October Yeezy 2s for well below retail. It goes without saying that particular pair of Air Pythons will cost you a fraction of what the Yeezys go for.
Of course, it doesn’t have quite the same amount of clout, but like I always say, clout isn’t everything.
Wear what you love, folks.
Don’t believe the hype.